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Dec. 21, 2011 -- Getting information on the community where an affordable housing opportunity exists is now easier with enhancements to Westchester County's Homeseeker Web section.

Available at www.westchestergov.com/homeseeker, the site allows visitors to sign up to receive information on affordable housing opportunities. With the newest feature, visitors can also "see" the community in which the new housing opportunities are being created.

"With these enhancements, we have created a one-stop hub for information about available housing units, their neighborhoods and nearby services," said County Executive Robert P. Astorino.

The site includes a map locating all current affordable housing developments with pop-up pictures and links for additional information. When a user clicks on the link for more details, a page for that development opens up that shows a rendering or photo of the housing, floor plans and information on how to apply and receive additional information.

The housing page also includes links to the local government's and school district's Web sites, as well as a New York State database on daycare options. Click on "neighborhood map" and the user will see a detailed map of the neighborhood where the housing is located. The map shows other community facilities such as schools, public transportation and hospitals. The map also connects through Bing Maps to locate retail and commercial opportunities.

Those who sign-up and provide contact information will be notified of upcoming fair and affordable homeownership or rental opportunities that are part of Westchester County's housing settlement with the federal government as well as those that become available through other housing initiatives.

The person signing up can check a box to receive information for homeownership information, for rental information or for both ownership and rental. Those who sign up receive notification of available homes and apartments, including information sessions and open houses, and homebuyer education seminars.

The housing settlement was entered into two years ago by former County Executive Andrew J. Spano with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Also approved by the Board of Legislators, it requires the county to ensure the development of 750 units of housing in 31 communities and to undertake marketing that ensures outreach to racially and ethnically diverse households. Nearly 300 of these housing units are in some stage of development, including accepting applications. Other county financed homes are also available and are accepting applications.

People who need assistance completing the forms can contact a housing counseling agency certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. These agencies also have housing counselors who can assist Spanish speakers with the forms. The agencies are:

· Community Housing Innovations, Inc. (914) 683-1010

· Housing Action Council (914) 332-4144

· Human Development Services of Westchester (914) 939-2005

· Westchester Residential Opportunities (914) 428-4507

To qualify to purchase any fair and affordable housing, would-be homeowners are required to participate in a homeownership counseling program through one of these agencies.